Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way Movie Poster Image

Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way



Earnest docu paints inspiring picture of feminist pioneer.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 86 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This documentary sends the powerful, explicit message that women can make waves in the world and that sexism and gender discrimination is something worth fighting against.

Positive role models

As both a loving mother and an influential, ethical politician, Ferraro is an ideal role model for young people. Other luminaries to be looked up to in this documentary include Hillary and Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Secretary Madeleine Albright, and Barbara and George Bush, Sr.

Not applicable

Exactly one curse word, used in the phrase "kick some ass."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One brief shot shows Ferraro and religious figures drinking wine together, seemingly in the ceremony of Mass.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way is a documentary about the first woman to run for vice president of the United States. There is very little to concern parents in the way of objectionable content: one curse word, a brief shot of Ferraro drinking wine at Mass, and some potentially upsetting footage of Ferraro, near the end of her life, talking about her bones being very frail. However, this documentary is more suitable for middle and high school students than elementary-age ones, since it discusses a relatively esoteric historical personality in the context of political and cultural change in America. Viewers have to know a fair amount about American history and politics to understand why Ferraro's candidacy, and its lasting effects, was a big deal. For those viewers, this is an interesting look back at a moment in American history.

What's the story?

Way back in 1984, headlines and history were made when a woman ran for the office of vice president of the United States for the very first time. In GERALDINE FERRARO: PAVING THE WAY, we meet the pioneering politician and delve deeply into her life. Through archival footage and interviews, Ferraro and such political luminaries as Madeleine Albright and Bill and Hillary Clinton trace Ferraro's story, from her humble beginnings as the child of working-class parents in New York's humblest boroughs, through her dazzling career as an assistant district attorney and then her ascendance into the national political arena. The documentary, made by filmmaker (and Ferraro's daughter) Donna Zaccaro, speculates as to the nefarious reasons why Ferraro's VP bid failed and why she didn't hold major public offices afterward. Finally, Paving the Way follows Ferraro through her final, fatal illness, paying tribute to a great lady of American politics.

Is it any good?


Given that this intriguing documentary was made by Ferraro's daughter, it's not much of a surprise that it paints Ferraro in only the most glowing terms. We hear about her years as a loving stay-at-home mother, her go-getter school years, and her successes in the DA office, and then, at the documentary's climax, we get a good look at the sharpness and charisma that made the Ferraro/Mondale ticket a potent threat to Ronald Reagan's (ultimately successful) bid for reelection in 1984.

It's a burnished, golden picture to be sure. But, especially for younger people who may never have heard of Ferraro (since she retired from politics more than 15 years ago), it's also an interesting tour through the rise and fall of the woman many hoped would become the first woman president, years and years before Hillary came on the scene. For budding feminists or young people who question why only dudes have held down the Oval Office so far, Paving the Way is an essential portrait.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why there has never been a female president or vice president in the United States. What women have run for major political office, and when? Do women hold major leadership roles in other countries?

  • Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way indicates that Ferraro's political ambitions were curtailed by a smear campaign. Is this a common political ploy? What other candidates have faced negative publicity during their campaigns?

  • This documentary was made by one of Ferraro's daughters. How does this knowledge change your view on the movie? Do you trust what you see more or less? Or does your opinion remain unchanged?

Movie details

DVD/Streaming release date:September 1, 2014
Cast:Hillary Rodham Clinton, Geraldine Ferraro, Bill Clinton
Director:Donna Zaccaro
Studio:Showtime Ent.
Topics:Great girl role models, History
Run time:86 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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